During Halloween, there were a number of plot holders utilising their plots to grow pumpkins for their children and grandchildren. The F1 variety ‘Becky’ proved to be perfect; with medium sized fruits that are not too big to handle. It tastes pretty good roasted in the oven too, in a pie or even used to make pumpkin soup. My favourite trick is to roast the seeds in the oven for a healthy snack.
My main focus in November is to tidy up my plot. It is quite easy at this time of year to make a marked difference to the appearance of your plot in a relatively short space of time. Spent foliage from summer favourites such as beans, courgettes, squash et al, can be soon removed.
Any non-diseased foliage can be put in a compost bin. Potato haulms that got struck down with blight shouldn’t be composted of course. Instead, if your site rules permit the use of an incinerator on your site, this is a good way to safely get rid of it.
I’m cutting down my asparagus foliage to near the base of the plant too. The foliage is spent and will be buffeted by the wind. Therefore the risk of water ingress in the crowns with subsequent rot will increase.
Most of the annual weeds have slowed down or stopped growing now for the winter. That said, the grass typically continues to grow and some seeds are still germinating. Fortunately it is easy to deal with these.
Following on from the garlic and onions last month, I’m on with planting shallots this month. I’m going to try to time-served variety ‘Griselle’. This has quite a spicy flavour and is a traditional shallot shaped bulb. For something a little different, the banana shaped shallot ‘Longor’ is sweeter tasting with pink coloured flesh. Both varieties are perfectly hardy and can be planted outside until mid -December.
That said, if the weather turns severe, why not use fleece or cloches to cover the plants to offer some protection. The main threat comes from heavy, wet, waterlogged soils. On plots with poor draining soil, plant the bulbs in cells in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame. They’ll germinate and survive the winter in these conditions, ready for planting outdoors in spring.
I do like to leave some of the plot in large undisturbed areas, as well as having some beds. These are areas that I traditionally dig over now to allow the frost and winter rains to break down the clods. A sharp and purposeful spade is a must. To ease the pressure on my back, I use a border spade and have done for years. I find them so much easier. It won’t be long until I succumb to buying a child’s spade too for my seven year old. It may stop her asking to borrow mine. Maybe Father Christmas will take note!